What is Architecture?

Architecture at its most Fundamental provides shelter while at its best it enriches experiences and improves lives but the effect of Architecture on the wider Society is much broader. Every built space has a ripple effect on the community at large. It can stitch individuals into a community. It has the power to create a sense of belonging and breathe life into forgotten corners of our cities.

At its core, architecture is about creating spaces for people. Whether it’s public parks, community centers, or cultural institutions, environments that encourage interaction and social engagement, thoughtful urban planning, and well-designed buildings can facilitate spontaneous encounters, providing spaces where people can meet, interact, and form meaningful connections. Hence architecture is a catalyst to create a sense of community. 

Towards Community architecture

 India is home to varied dialects, religions, and communities that keep changing in a 20 km radius. Hence community becomes a big part of the culture of the people. At the same time, India is a developing country with developments in the ever-changing urban fabric that has questioned the identity sieving through the traditional and the modern to only find that some places find it difficult to balance the old and the new. The larger developments lead to displacement of communities and further loss of identity with many regions that remain underserved and in constant decay. The real question lies in whether Architecture can help create a change and mold Humanity with significant social benefits and answer questions like.

Can architecture bring people together?
Can architecture Help feed a community?
Can architecture improve social living?
Can architecture help women thrive?
Architecture to help the Abandoned. 

The Music, Art, and Cultural Academy (M.A.C) in Tiruvannamalai is an institution that is dedicated to assisting abandoned and troubled children, offering them a home, education, and support until they can stand on their own. The project is in partnership between Made in Earth and Terre des Hommes Core Trust. This institution nurtures artistic talents and safeguards cultural heritage. Through innovative approaches of collaboration, backs the community, and continues to flourish, contributing significantly to Tiruvannamalai’s culture and identity.

The strategy consists of small interventions to be spread all over the region. The Community Hall, M.A.C., is a part of this interconnected network. The M.A.C. is conceived as a unique, semi-transparent wall that spirals into the community hall which is the meeting space for children, parents, and tutors, fostering connections with fellow citizens of Tiruvannamalai. The venue serves as a living testament to the NGO’s evolution over the years, housing a permanent exhibition narrating its story and hosting occasional public events. This strategic approach involves implementing small interventions throughout the region, creating a network that amplifies the positive impact of each initiative.

Architecture as a Social Catalyst - Sheet1
The Music, Art and Cultural Academy, Tiruvannamalai _©Architizer

Architecture to Transform neglected spaces

MVRDV and Mumbai-based StudioPOD have revitalized the underutilized space beneath Mumbai’s Senapati Bapat Marg flyover, turning it into a community area. Typically neglected and unsafe, these spaces suffer from a lack of greenery, amenities, and high noise levels, creating barriers between neighborhoods. The collaborative project, named One Green Mile, breaks creates visually striking transformation. Blue stripes, serving as a visual identity, extend across the entire area, creating a holistic urban space. The innovative design introduces a hilly paved landscape, converting two-dimensional visuals into a dynamic 3D spatial experience. The project integrates diverse programs, offering an attractive and multifunctional environment. MVRDV and StudioPOD’s vision not only redefines neglected spaces but also enhances urban mobility and community connectivity, setting a precedent for creative and sustainable urban interventions.

Architecture as a Social Catalyst - Sheet2
Mumbai’s Senapati Bapat Marg flyover_© worldarchitecture.org/

Architecture to rehabilitate the Urban poor

The In Situ Slum Rehabilitation Project in Yerwada, Pune, under the BSUP, JNNURM Scheme, is an initiative aimed at improving housing conditions for the urban poor. This transformative endeavor emphasizes the active involvement and contribution of the beneficiary community, fostering a collaborative approach to design and development. Commencing with a meticulous exploration of the community’s needs, challenges, and perspectives, the project seeks to address issues of sanitation, lighting, and ventilation at both individual dwelling and settlement levels, ultimately uplifting the overall living conditions within the slum. The design strategy is rooted in preserving the existing fabric of the slum, including street patterns and house footprints. To accommodate the allocated 270 sq ft, the architect has proposed two innovative designs: individual houses and cluster houses. These designs not only optimize space but also ensure that the essence of the community is retained. This approach underscores the transformative power of architecture when communities are empowered to actively engage in the design process. 

In Situ Slum Rehabilitation Project in Yerwada, Pune, under the BSUP, JNNURM Scheme _©prasannadesaiarchitects.blogspot.

Architecture to reinforce Sense of Belonging and Identity

Positive experiences and connections are important as cities continue to grow and evolve. The surroundings greatly influence these experiences, and hence architects and designers play a crucial role in creating environments that uplift and dispel negativity. Architecture has the potential to energize, unite, and uplift the urban fabric, knitting together the diverse threads of humanity into a harmonious and resilient community. When citizens see their stories mirrored in the structures around them, a profound connection is forged. This connection instills a sense of responsibility, nurturing a community that actively participates in its preservation and evolution.

References

(2021, September 22). , – YouTube. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/architecture-catalyst-social-socio-economic-value-creation-s%C3%A1ntha/

Dornier, A. (2022, July 19). MVRDV and StudioPOD transform Mumbai’s neglected space beneath flyover into a community space. World Architecture Community. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from  https://worldarchitecture.org/article-links/enppz/mvrdv-and-studiopod-transform-mumbai-s-neglected-space-beneath-flyover-into-a-community-space.html#google_vignette

González, M. F. (2020, December 31). M. A. C. Community Center / Made in Earth. ArchDaily. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from https://www.archdaily.com/870856/m-a-c-made-in-earth

hudson, d. (2017, May 8). made in earth completes concrete block music and art center in india. Designboom. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from https://www.designboom.com/architecture/made-earth-music-and-art-center-india-05-08-2017/

In Situ Slum Rehabilitation Project for Urban Poor Under BSUP, JNNUR Scheme, Yerwada, Pune by Prasanna Desai Architects. (2019, February 15). Architecture. Retrieved November 14, 2023, from https://www.architecturepressrelease.com/in-situ-slum-rehabilitation-project-for-urban-poor-under-bsup-jnnur-scheme-yerwada-pune-by-prasanna-desai-architects/

Author

Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.